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Wednesday Woof - Canis lupus dingo Edition

In before "A Dingo ate my baby!" For which, none of you will be surprised to learn, there is an entire Wikipedia entry. I make the references so you don't have to. ;)

The Dingo (Canis lupus dingo) can be found mainly in Australia and parts of Southeast Asia, where it is believed to have originated. Currently, the Dingo is classified as a subspecies of Gray Wolf, but in the past has been considered a distinct species (Canis dingo) or a subspecies of domestic dog (Canis familiaris dingo). How they came to be on the continent of Australia is a matter of debate - the most common theory is that Dingoes were either descended from or deliberately bred down from the Indian Wolf or Arabian Wolf six to ten thousand years ago. It is not known whether they were once domesticated in Australia or were always feral. Dingo is the common name for this canid, modified by its habitat (alpine dingo, desert dingo, tropical dingo, etc.). Some people call them Australian Wolves, given their status as a subspecies of Canis lupus. The Aboriginal languages have differing terms for Dingoes as well, distinguishing them by where they live. These terms include joogong, mirigung, boolomo, papa-inura and noggum.


Dingoes average 61 inches (154 cm) from nose to tail, stand about 24 inches (60 cm) at the shoulder and weigh about 44 pounds (20 kg). Larger specimens have been recorded, but most adults are close to these stats. Males are usually larger and heavier than females of the same age, but gender dimorphism is not extreme. Young male Dingoes are typically solitary and have no fixed territory. Breeding pairs in isolated areas will remain together, but in areas with larger populations, breeding-age Dingoes will form a pack. Packs do maintain territories, and there is little to no overlap between territories of distinct packs. In the desert, however, water sources are shared by necessity.

Dingoes have a hugely varied diet. Over 170 species have been identified as deemed edible by Dingoes - they're extremely opportunistic, and their hunting technique varies depending on what is being hunted. Most of their diet consists of marsupials of various kinds (kangaroos, wallabys, wombats, possums), rabbits, rodents and birds. They are active mostly during dusk and dawn. Though they have a reputation for harassing livestock, domesticated animals only seem to make up a very small percentage of their diet.


Dingoes breed only once a year, in general, depending on the estrus cycle of the females. After a gestation period of 61 to 69 days, female Dingoes will give birth to a litter of one to ten pups, although the average litter size is five. In packs, only the alpha pair will breed successfully, and the rest of the pack will help to raise the pups. The pups begin life in a birthing den but will leave it when they reach three weeks, and will not return to the den after eight.


Dingoes often communicate with each other through vocalizations. They can bark, but they don't do it often. When they do bark, it is usually a single call and not repeated ad nauseum like domestic dogs. Barks are used almost exclusively as a warning. They have three common varieties of howl, which are moans, bark-howls and snuffs. They will howl to greet each other or to locate other pack members in wide open spaces. They will also growl.

Dingoes as a whole are abundant in Australia, but certain populations are under threat through breeding with domestic dogs and efforts have been made to protect the Fraser Island populations. The level of protection afforded to Dingoes varies from state-to-state. In some states, Dingoes are considered to be on par with feral dogs and are treated as pests. Landowners are given leave to control populations. They have some protection in national parks and nature reserves in New South Wales, Victoria, the Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and Aboriginal Lands.

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